An Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama yesterday sacked a former Governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke, as the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the October 6 primaries of the party. The court, however, declared a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, the winner of the presidential primaries. The party had after its primary election declared Duke as the winner of the election and its flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election. Not satisfied, Gana approached the court seeking to be declared the winner in line with the zoning and rotation formular of the party’s constitution.
Gana had joined SDP, its National Chairman, Olu Falae; National Secretary, Shehu Musa Gabam; Chairman, SDP Presidential Screening Panel/ Deputy National Chairman, South, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; Duke and INEC as defendants in the suit He also sought among other things a declaration of the court that he ought to have been declared the winner of the SDP presidential primary election, having polled the highest valid votes in the said election. Delivering judgement, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, held that the regulations contained in the party’s constitution were binding on every member and must be obeyed.
He further held that the zoning and rotation formula as contained in the party’s constitution stipulated that both the chairman of the party and the flag bearer should not come from the same zone. According to him: “In the instant case, the party’s chairman, Olu Falae, is from the South and Duke is from the South too.
The law is clear; there is nothing to write inbetween. “The law has crystallised that political parties should abide by the regulations which they have made by themselves. “The claimant laid sufficient evidence to have the judgment in his favour. It is a clear violation of the party’s constitution. The court cannot waive right over illegality.”
The judge, therefore, declared Gana the winner of SDP presidential primaries conducted on October 6. He also declared Duke’s 812 votes null and void, and ordered SDP to forward Gana’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election.
In addition, he ordered Duke to stop parading himself as the party’s flag bearer for the election. In his application, Gana also sought a declaration of the court that he ought to have been declared the winner of the SDP presidential primary election, having polled the highest valid votes in the said election. Gana also sought a perpetual injunction restraining Duke from parading himself as the SDP presidential candidate for the elections, among other reliefs.